WEYMOUTH 3 BIDEFORD 2
THE Terras stood strong in the gale force conditions tonight to record a fantastic victory over play-off chasing Bideford at the Bob Lucas Stadium.
The wet and windy weather made this Southern Premier League clash a war of attrition, which went on to include five goals and two red cards.
George Rigg bagged a brace and Stewart Yetton netted his 15th league goal of the season for the Terras but credit has to go to both teams for their incredible efforts in such difficult conditions.
The Terras made two changes to the side that started the 5-0 defeat against Stourbridge at the weekend with Ashley Wells and Luke Winsper replacing Scott Walker and Ben Joyce, who both dropped to the bench. The double switch also saw a change in shape with Winsper lining up alongside Rigg and Adam Kelly in midfield in a 4-3-3 formation.
Reserve-team duo Lee Sharpe and Luke Chatterton were also named among the substitutes along with Barry McConnell, while Carl McClements missed out through illness.
There were also several familiar faces in the Bideford squad, which included four former Terras.
Ben Gerring, Stephen Reed and Craig Duff all started for the Robins while Richard Groves began on the bench.
Unsurprisingly, the adverse weather was the main topic of conversation in the stands ahead of kick-off and it made the coin toss an interesting one.
The Terras won it and opted to play with the wind at their backs but it was Bideford that almost took the lead in the opening minute.
Ian Sampson was played through on the right-hand side of the box but his low drive rebounded off the chest of home keeper Jason Matthews before the ball was eventually cleared.
The conditions were almost turning the game into a farce.
First, Matthews sent a free-kick wide of the target at the other end from just outside his own box before fellow stopper Steve Oliver attempted a goal-kick, which barely made it out of his area.
The Terras were certainly enjoying more of the pressure and, on 20 minutes, they finally broke through when Rigg fired home from 25 yards, giving Oliver no chance.
For all their territorial dominance though, the hosts were still looking uncertain at the back and, just seconds later, Bideford were level.
A fierce drive stung the palms of Matthews and, when the ball ran loose, there was Sean Downing to convert from close range.
Suddenly the Robins sensed an opportunity and during the course of the next five minutes, they should have taken the lead.
Sampson dragged an effort wide before Kevin Squire went clean through, only to fire his shot straight at Matthews.
Bideford certainly seemed to be making better use of the conditions despite the Terras continuing to take pot shots at the other end.
A lot of the home side’s efforts were either flying wide or being blocked, although Niall Thomp-son did go close with a long-range strike on 32 minutes, which just cleared the bar.
Kelly then broke into the box and saw a shot blocked by Oliver before Matthews had to make a smart save to deny Duff, as the game continued to swing from end to end.
The wind and rain appeared to be relentless and, after the break, only a great last-ditch tackle from Sam Poole stopped Squire from giving Bideford the lead.
The visiting forward raced on to a wind-assisted ball through the middle but the Weymouth skipper somehow made up the ground to slide in and poke the ball out for a corner.
It appeared Bideford were slowly beginning to take control but on 53 minutes a fantastic break from Thompson led to Weymouth regaining the lead The Torquay United loanee outpaced two defenders down the left flank before sending over a fine cross for Rigg to fire in his second from 14 yards.
That goal left the Robins stunned and, just eight minutes later, they conceded again.
This time, Luke Burbidge played through Yetton and he did the rest with a composed finish from the edge of the area to beat the onrushing Oliver.
With the conditions now relenting a little, the Terras were in full command and, on 75 minutes, that man Thompson was at it again.
This time he raced clean through from deep in his own half but, on this occasion, Oliver made a great save to push the winger’s shot out for a corner.
To their credit, the Robins kept plugging away and, on 81 minutes, they were handed a lifeline when a rash challenge from Jake Green on Sampson resulted in a melee involving almost every player.
Green was shown the red card and when Matthews spilled the resulting free-kick, there was Gerring to make it 3-2.
Bideford were now back in it but, just seconds after scoring, Rob Farkins was then given his marching orders after being adjudged to have left his boot in on Matthews after the goal.
Rigg then wasted a golden chance to grab his hat-trick after more good work from Thompson before the final whistle finally brought the craziness to an end.
Player-manager Matthews was justifiably proud of his Terras at the final whistle and a lot of praise should also go to the club’s ground staff for the way the pitch held up so well in the conditions.
Terras: Matthews 6, Wells 7, Green 6, Winsper 6, M Walker 7, Poole 8, Burbidge 7, Kelly 7, Yetton 7, Rigg 8, Thompson 8. Subs not used: S Walker, Joyce, McConnell, Sharpe, Chatterton.
Bideford: Oliver, Milton (Howe 54), Reed, Downing (Phillips 43), Farkins, Gerring, Hockley (Sullivan 66), Bye, Squire, Sampson, Duff. Subs not used: Groves, Mercieca.
Bookings – Terras: Thompson (unsporting behaviour 68) Bideford: None.
Sent off – Terras: Green (violent conduct 81) Bideford: Farkins (violent conduct 83) Referee: William Bull (Winchester) Attendance: 261